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Alito 'Hostile to Disability Rights,' Says Bazelon

The Bazelon Center has released "highlights of a long and troubling record" of disability right cases decided by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

"This nomination poses a serious threat to people with disabilities," says Bazelon in a news release. "Having sat on a federal court of appeals for 15 years, Alito has a record of decisions hostile to disability rights."

Just a couple of Bazelon's notes about a very long list of dangerous decisions:

  • In 1999, Judge Alito ruled along with other judges on the Third Circuit to allow the National Board of Medical Examiners to flag test scores of individuals who received accommodations on their medical licensing exams due to their disabilities. The plaintiff claimed that the medical board's practice subjected him to possible discrimination in internship and residency programs. The court ruled that flagging was not discrimination because the ADA does not specifically bar it. "The decision reflects a misunderstanding of and hostility to the ADA," says Bazelon. (Doe v. National Board of Medical Examiners, 199 F.3d 146 (3d Cir. 1999).
  • In 2002, Judge Alito ruled along with other judges on the Third Circuit excusing local zoning boards from engaging in a process to identify reasonable accommodations needed to provide equal access for people with disabilities. (Lapid Laurel, L.L.C. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Scotch Plains, 284 F.3d 442 (3d Cir. 2002).

Read Bazelon's full analysis.

Related: A 'special chair' for Jayne Nathanson (blog entry on an Alito early disability rights decision) in Edge-Centric.